Sales grew by 2.8 percent in 2014 at De Rigo Vision, with house brands such as Police, Lozza and Sting growing by 3.8 percent. Two licenses, Chopard and Furla, made good progress as well. While boosting operations in the U.S. and China, the group is hiring 35 new people in the design, prototyping and marketing departments to support its future growth.
The results of De Rigo's retail operations are not yet available, but operating profits before amortization (Ebitda) on the company's wholesale operations remained constant at €22 million. The group's financial situation remains positive. It has no debt. It has always generated a net profit, which amounted to €1.8 million in 2013, a black year for profitability.
De Rigo has reorganized the distribution of its products in China, establishing offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to service the whole market. The operation has been placed under the responsibility of a new general manager, Gary Li Hui, a former deputy general manager of Charmant who has spent 13 years with the Japanese company. New managers have been hired for sales and marketing. De Rigo still has an office in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, De Rigo continues gradually to ramp up its operations in the U.S., which still represents only about 5 percent of its turnover. As we reported on Feb. 27, it has appointed a general manager, Iraj Kamili, for the American subsidiary that it set up in Miami two years ago, after working with distributors. It has also promoted a regional manager, Joey Sabado, as sales director of De Rigo Vision USA.
The goal of the new U.S. team is to develop De Rigo's sales to independent opticians and small retail chains. The company already has direct key account agreements with Luxottica's major retail chains in the U.S., Lenscrafters and Sunglass Hut, and other big retailers. It continues to look at possible acquisitions in the U.S. market, following the example of Eschenbach and Marcolin.
The company is growing rapidly in Asia and the Americas, particularly in Brazil where Police has been endorsed since last year by a famous Brazilian football player, Neymar. Europe continues to represent about 60 percent of the total turnover. De Rigo generates less than ten percent of its sales in Italy.
As previously reported, De Rigo is losing the Givenchy license to Safilo. However, company officials indicate that it stands to sign up with two other unnamed brands whose licenses with other producers are coming to an end, plus a third brand that had disappeared from the market.
Meanwhile, Lozza is launching a capsule collection of four sunglasses co-branded with Pininfarina, the Italian manufacturer of high-end car bodies, which will be sold initially at 250 selected stores.
At the last Mido fair, De Rigo launched the collections of two newly acquired licenses: Momo Design, a top-end men's sports brand of glasses made of carbon fiber, and Zadig & Voltaire for fashion-conscious women in the 30 to 45 age group, retailing at between €140 and €160 per pair.
De Rigo has renewed its Lanvin license after achieving growth of 17 percent in 2014, with strong performance especially South Korea and other parts of Asia. Another brand in its portfolio, Blumarine, is popular in Italy and Russia.
On the retail front, the joint venture with the British chain Boots Opticians has brought dividends. With 50 new openings in the pipeline, it will reach a total door count of 650. The 250 General Optica stores in Spain and Portugal increased sales by 3 percent last year. In Turkey, the Opmar Optik chain has tripled its network in the last two years, taking it from 20 to 60 outlets.